The truth about “Family Holidays”

Ever since I returned from my short trip to Australia, three weeks ago, I have been in a bit of a funk.  The urge to scream and run has been building as the interminable school holidays have dragged on.

This town is a miserable place to be trapped over the summer.  Many families have left the country.  The weather is either hot, or wet, or both.  There are no parks or playgrounds, swimming is only an option intermittently due to the rain and I can only come up with so many things to do with empty milk bottles, glue and glitter! … and bored kids fight.  Bored little girls… they become experts at vicious, manipulative, psychological warfare.  It is exhausting.

Not to worry!  Tomorrow night  G will finish work, come home, collect his family (that is us) and travel to France for the last three weeks of the Summer Break.

Tonight, on the eve of departure for our ‘Annual Family Holiday’, with a horrible head-cold, mountains of packing/ thinking/organising  yet to be done, the prospect of a long haul overnight-flight with two sick kids and a yet-to-fall-ill-but-probably-will-tomorrow-becauses-that’s-the-way-it-works-when-I-am-feeling-this-sorry-for-myself toddler, I really want to quit and walk out.

But I can’t, can I.  Can I? No, I can’t?

I should be excited about our planned adventure.  We are flying to Paris.  I am assured by the girls that we will see fairies there as they live at the top of the Eiffel Tower (Thank you Barbie Movies!) We have rented a lovely apartment for 5 days… just me, G , the girls and Gay Paree!

After that, our nanny, who has two sisters living outside of Paris, will re-join us and we will all catch the fast train to Lyon, then hire a care and drive to  l’Ardèche for two weeks with my beautiful brother-in-law and his lovely partner.

It all sounds wonderful, perfect even.

There has certainly been a great deal of thought and planning on my part to make sure that we have as much fun as you possibly can with three small children in tow.  Five days in Paris, in an apartment not a hotel, so that when the girls wake up at 3am with jet-lag we can get up and feed them without disturbing others.  Apartment close to a park so we can stroll to open spaces and run small children regularly (I find that, like dogs, small people behave better after a good run in the park). Cot organised, 7-seater hired… and on and on the logistics go… including taking our wonderful nanny for completely selfish and self-serving reasons.

The truth is that holidays with the family are fun for everyone except ME.  Travelling, with three small kids is pretty much the last thing I want to do but, surprise, surprise, when G has three weeks off he doesn’t want to stay in Vientiane – BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING TO DO!

Undoubtedly, G and I are going to have a rip-roaring, fuck-off argument at some point during the next three weeks. Personally, I am hoping we get it over early in the piece because the make-up sex is usually pretty good… oh that’s right, we are travelling and sleeping with three kids… chances of sex are pretty low, festering resentment much more likely!

I have been burned before by family holidays to glamorous locations. I have foolishly assumed that because the location was glamorous and exotic, I might be able to indulge in a little glamorous and exotic behaviour.  The sound of my shattered expectations smashing onto the hand-painted, italian tiles was heard by no-one but me.

You can’t fault the view.

So this time I am going to be realistic.  I won’t expect to stay up late and take in the night life of Paris or indulge in lazy afternoons reading a book in the French country side.  I will anticipate enjoying seeing a new Country through the eyes of my children and finding a fairy on the Eiffel Tower.

Maybe this could be the holiday that I don’t start a fight with my other half.

I COULD just try to enjoy a lovely family holiday with my lovely family.

After all, I will soon be in Paris. That is a little bit fabulous.


Merci d’avoir lu (I think that means, ‘Thanks for reading’ in French)

11 thoughts on “The truth about “Family Holidays”

  1. Madame, I’ve seen my wife go through the same hassle when we go on holidays, so I can sympathise just a little. All I can say is, go with the flow and spare a thought for the rest of us who are stuck in ‘le syidnei in cold freaking ‘le weather, drinking crappy ‘le coffee! 🙂

  2. Can relate. I only do holidays with childcare now as otherwise the work never stops..instead you are cooking, cleaning, shopping in a strange place, in heat, with no toys – doing exactly what you would do normally with none of the normal safety nets..but Paris should be lush! xxx

  3. Pip, I totally agree with you. Our holidays have been always quite stressful and less enjoyable than we expected. I am part of the reason. Manila isn’t a great place either. There is nothing to do and the school holidays are too long. I haven’t had a proper break since May last year! and I just had the third baby…can you imagine my mood? Anyway, I wish you a lovely time in Paris and think of us, we are not going anywhere until the end of this posting, June 2014. Love your blog. Besos

    • Esther, congratulations on number three. I am sorry his arrival was so worrying but am very glad you are all home safe now. We must get our SIX kids together sometime. Arrived in Paris yesterday. Mix up with check-ins and baby cots so a long day wandering the streets and finding parks and tasty treats. Jet-lag means we are all up at 4am. Guessing we will be first in line when Notre Dame opens!!! I saw a Spanish restaurant last night so perhaps this evening we will have Paella in your honour.

  4. Just have to agree with this post! Of course it’s more work with kids. I so swore off any other children being born from my womb because of family holidays. I become someone else and am forever fighting with the whole family..Mike and I are hardly on speaking terms. Love, love, love that you can voice what many of us feel.

    • Thanks Jacqui. I was venting but it was surprising how many mummies told me they felt the same way. My grandma used to say that holidays meant doing everything you normally do in a strange place with half the tools! Still, those holidays are often the place our most precious memories at made! Our trip to France was actually really nice (mostly)but I had to work really really hard to keep my cool.

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